Notts frustrated as Strauss finds form

Nottinghamshire 423 & 174-7 Middlesex 300-9 & 87-0 (Match drawn)

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The Independent Online

Michael Vaughan's view that Andrew Strauss was undergoing a worthless exercise by seeking to regain his form in county cricket might have been one with which the current England captain would have been inclined to agree when he was out first ball on his seasonal debut at Lord's three weeks ago. At least it has been good in parts.

Strauss made 49 in his one knock in his second, rain-affected match and concluded the competitive part of his preparation for the opening Test with an unbeaten 43 as Middlesex's match against the Division One leaders, Nottinghamshire, ended in a draw.

Neatly enough, it means Strauss has managed exactly 100 runs from his five innings, which may not be the kind of form he was looking for after a lean winter, but he at last encountered a pitch with conditions that did not excessively favour the ball.

It was too good a surface in the end, failing to deliver the help Nottinghamshire had hoped might have been there for Graeme Swann, the England off-spinner, as they sought to secure a fourth win from six matches and cement their lead.

Middlesex, having escaped once in the match when Ollie Rayner's heroic 143 not out as nightwatchman staved off the threat of an innings defeat, were in no mood to risk defeat by chasing the 298 they were set to win from 51 overs when Nottinghamshire declared at 174 for 7, in which the all-rounder Steven Mullaney supplemented his first-innings 60 with a confident 73.

The time left was never likely, either, to be enough for the home side to take 10 wickets, even had Swann been able to work some kind of magic.

Strauss had a let-off on 26 when Chris Read, unusually, dropped a chance low to his left behind the stumps after Stuart Broad had found the edge, but otherwise the England captain was untroubled and timed the ball well, hitting seven boundaries, as he and Sam Robson steered a safe path through35 overs to handshakes at five o'clock.

Broad bowled better than he had all match, which was more good news for England.